Prices of holidays are soaring, say tour operators

The average selling price of a holiday is soaring as consumers book more extras and longer durations, say tour operators.

Speaking at the Travel Weekly Future of Travel Spring Forum, Premier Holidays’ sales and marketing director said her company has seen a “massive hike”.

Debbie Goffin told the Future of Travel Week Spring Forum that average selling prices had risen by 37%-38% on long-haul and short-haul programmes, compared to 2019.

“People are thinking bigger and better,” she said. “They finally get to go away so [are thinking] ‘let’s go big’.

“Bucket-list holidays, experiences, making the holiday more special and better than it might have been, staying longer, upgrading accommodation, upgrading flights – it is a whole mix of those things,” sh explained.

“The average selling price is up by a significant amount of money on all of our programmes. So that’s very gratifying to see.”

Guy Novik, chief executive at USAirtours, said his company is seeing more three-week, multi-centre holidays being booked.

“People are thinking ‘if I’m going to go through the hoops and jump through what is required for me to leave the country and get back into the country’, then they’re going to make sure that effort is worthwhile.

“We’re seeing much longer holidays being booked.”

He said the US specialist has seen enquiries and bookings jump since prime minister Boris Johnson unveiled the roadmap out of lockdown last month.

“As of the end of February, we finally got to a figure I’ve been trying to get to for the last 12 months, which is to do 50% of the bookings that we did in February 2019.

“The bookings are coming through for the back end of this year, and for next year. The US does traditionally book a long way ahead so I’m very encouraged by what we’re seeing.

“As long as Boris sticks to his roadmap, I think come April 12 – providing he confirms that May 17 is the date to go – the background of the mood music is going to encourage even more enquiries.”

Novik said customers are also making forward bookings more than a year ahead, beyond the range of global distribution systems’ (GDS’) available flights.

However, he warned there will be less product available next year as airlines are flying with smaller planes, so prices will rise.

“In terms of advanced registration, we are definitely taking a very cautious approach and the kind of rates we have got in the marketplace are really surprising people,” he said.

“But I believe the price is going to be substantially higher than people have been used to. Customers really need to book early, because, otherwise, they’re going to find that they’re going to run out of product and the price will go to the ceiling.”

Goffin said Premier’s long-haul sales are mostly for 2022 holidays but departures for the Channel Islands and Scilly Isles are now reaching capacity for summer 2021.

Agents speaking on the same panel also saw rising interest after the roadmap was revealed – and expect more bookings to be confirmed after April 12, when the government’s Global Travel Taskforce will report its recommendations.

Miles Morgan, chairman of Miles Morgan Travel, said: “We’re a long, long way from where we should be but at least it’s going in the right direction.

“The majority of our customers are older clients – retired, affluent people – and most of those are waiting for the announcement on April 12 before the green light really does come on.”

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive at Advantage Travel Partnership, agreed, saying: “We saw some demand come through after the announcement.

“We’re really waiting to see what the measures will be. We know there’s demand; we know that bookings are all ready to be taken.

“What no one wants to do is go through the trauma of having to rebook [and] move bookings again.”

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